Was literature an afterthought for early Mormons? Looking at the first few years of Mormonism, I get the idea that for most church members it was. For the first few years poetry was the only literary work published (except for scripture and perhaps some sermons, although I don’t want to include these as literary for this analysis) and poetry was initially intended for the hymnal. When the first LDS hymnal was published in 1835, that emphasis waned, and even the LDS periodicals published fewer poems. After the initial burst of activity, 1836, 1837 and 1838 weren’t very fertile years for Mormon literature.
The murder of Joseph Smith and subsequent emigration of LDS Church members to Utah interrupted efforts to proselyte in most areas outside of the United States. Prior to the martyrdom, the Church had made some additional attempts to proselyte in other languages. Speakers of several other languages had joined the Church, many of whom were an important part of later missionary efforts, such as Dan Jones (Welsh), Peter O. Hansen (Danish), and Daniel Carn (German). Enough German language speakers joined the saints in Nauvoo that a German-speaking congregation was established there. Continue reading “A Short History of Mormon Publishing: Publishing in Foreign Missions”
The first of seven posts, following an introduction posted last week.
Effectively, Mormonism begins with the publication of a book.
The publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830 gave the nascent Church content and direction–content in the form of a tangible object that could be delivered to investigators, and direction in the form of a stated goal to preach the gospel to all the world. Since religious and political tracts were already in widespread use in the U.S. (Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, for example), early members and missionaries knew the power of the written word. Continue reading “A Short History of Mormon Publishing: The Formative Period”